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Not What Flagler’s Battered Beaches Need: Elevated “Super-Tide” Again Places Properties and Dunes in Danger

| November 4, 2016

erosion painters hill

More erosion is not helping.: A house on Painters Hill in Flagler County. (© FlaglerLive)

It’s not what Flagler County’s battered, eroded and barely recovering beaches need right now.


A cold front is moving through the region this afternoon, with strong high pressure building southward from the Ohio Valley on Saturday. While that may be good news weather-wise, with cool, dry, vaguely autumnal air–highs will be in the upper 70s–strong northeast winds will develop in coastal locations this evening in the wake of the front, with sustained wind speeds of around 20 mph and occasional gusts up to 35 mph. That’ll continue through Saturday afternoon.

What that means for the sea and the beaches is less pleasant: On Saturday afternoon, the National Weather Center in Jacksonville warns, there will be elevated water levels of 1 to 1.5 feet above predicted tide heights around high tide, starting shortly after noon in the region.

“These levels could result in minor flooding at the northeast Florida beaches during the early afternoon hours on Saturday, especially given the compromised state of the protective dune structures,” the Jacksonville station’s Ben Nelson said.

That’s particularly bad news for Flagler County and Flagler Beach, which have been struggling to rebuild demolished dunes at several points along the shore, especially at Washington Oaks Gardens State Park, at the north end of the county, in Marineland, along Painters Hill and at the south end of Flagler Beach, where construction has been speeding along to reopen the 1.3-mile stretch of A1A that Hurricane Matthew partially demolished.

The makeshift wall of sand in place of the old dunes at Washington Oaks Gardens State Park. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

The makeshift wall of sand in place of the old dunes at Washington Oaks Gardens State Park. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

A half-dozen houses along what remains of the dunes in Painters Hill are also precariously positioned as if on cliffs right now, as the buffer of dunes that had previously protected them is gone, and the county has only emergency, 60-day authorization from state regulatory agencies to give property owners the go-ahead for repairs, leaving a permanent fix still pending.

“They have pushed up a dune that is probably 2,000 feet long to stop future breaches,” Copunty Administrator Craig Coffey said this afternoon of the restoration work at Washington Oaks. Homeowners along Painters Hill have been dumping sand to buttress their foundations. “We’ll be monitoring it very closely again and if we get some kind of break we’ll be ready to take action but in the short term we’re not anticipating another breach based on the work that’s been done by the county, the DEP and homeowners.” The DEP is the Department of Environmental Protection.

The worry Coffey said, is that even if there are no breaches, the tides’ actions against eroded walls “could undermine houses further and bring other houses in jeopardy.” There are just six houses in Painters Hill that have been compromised, but that list could grow if more sand is eroded. “I think we will still fare OK in this event although it can keep adding to the eroding of the existing protection.”

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A coastal flood advisory may be required for the late morning and early afternoon hours on Saturday for coastal northeast Florida, including the St. Johns River Basin, where water levels have been above normal due to astronomical effects, the Jacksonville station says. Expect high surf and a high risk of rip currents on Saturday, with breaker heights of 5-7 feet possible. These waves may create minor beach erosion during the high tide cycles on Saturday afternoon and just after midnight on Sunday.

Winds and seas will begin to gradually diminish during the overnight hours into Sunday.

In all, there’s a group of 16 to 19 homeowners in one area, five to six in another, and a total of 140 properties–houses and vacant lot–that directly front the ocean, and that are susceptible to high-tide events. “Every supertide has the potential to add additional properties, all those homeowners are very concerned,” Coffey said.

The county has been spending a lot of time with coastal engineers and is starting to meet with DEP and U.S. Army Corps of Engineer officials to work out a long term solution.

Meanwhile, DEP issued its guidelines in a 19-page emergency order outlining what may and may not be done during a 60-day emergency repair window, from vinyl sheeting to sand barriers, which has helped. But Coffey said the goal is to work on a solution that won’t have homeowners being forced to remove what emergency repairs they have in place when the 60-day window closes, or when a more permanent solution is approved. “It just doesn’t make sense for owners to go through that gyration only to rip it out right after,” Coffey said. “A permanent solution is what we’re trying to do.”

In the long run, possibilities for permanent repairs include the creation of voluntary taxing districts that would help finance beach-property restoration over many years. But that’s in the earliest conceptual stages, and it would depend on property owners’ willingness to go that route.

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12 Responses for “Not What Flagler’s Battered Beaches Need: Elevated “Super-Tide” Again Places Properties and Dunes in Danger”

  1. Sw says:

    Build a little closer to the water geez no offense but what would one expect to happen eventually

  2. Aynne says:

    I wonder if they are aware of the biggest super moon since 1948 occurring in just 10 days on Nov 14…the closest the moon has been to the earth in 68 years….bringing extra high tides with it?

  3. Roger says:

    All I am seeing is just just cheap talk by the county. Fix the dunes in Marineland Acres and Sea Colony. Any permanent solution is better than nothing as we have today, unless a homeowner does the work themselves. .

  4. dave says:

    Hate to say I told you so. We need to be more thoughtful when it comes to making roadways and houses on our futures beaches.

  5. Pop I. Cailor says:

    In two weeks the ocean will be getting 10ft closer to those “Beach Houses” then usual. An astronomical event will cause extreme high tides. Get out your wet suits and canoes cause its going to get BAD !!!!!

  6. Brianne says:

    I love when the jealous ninnies come out and laugh at people’s personal tragedy. Never has this been more true than during Hurricane Matthew. I am so utterly disgusted at the comments on social media and news sites about how Flagler Beach and other coastal cities should never have been built up and that we either deserved it or should’ve expected it. Well if you hate our towns this much, please stay landlocked and stop visiting. When you have to say “no offense BUT”, you mean to insult so don’t hide behind it.

  7. Sherry says:

    This is extremely important to all humans on our planet . . . I am personally begging each of you to watch this video from National Geographic, and to encourage everyone you love to also watch “Before The Flood”:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90CkXVF-Q8M

    I thank each of you so very much!

  8. Concerned Citizen says:

    I have mixed emotions on this topic.

    I see homeowners and real estate agents pushing to build just as close as they can to get to the ocean. Did we forget that Mother Nature is an omnipotent force and usually can’t be contained or controlled.

    Do we honestly think that we can contain a force as powerful as the Ocean. Making it bend to our demands and wishes?

    We build dunes and sea walls and expect it to keep the ocean out. We build scenic Highways so close to the shore that there is absolutely no buffer zone when a storm like Matthew or a rough Nor’easter comes along.

    Everyone goes scrambling for millions of dollars of repairs hoping that we don’t have the same thing happen 5 or 10 years down the road.

    I’m reminded if a saying that “The definition of Insanity is doing the same thing over and over. Expecting different results.”

    I totally sympathize with home owners and folks who have lost their belongings living near the beach. Having to rebuild is never easy and is a traumatizing event..

    However when you live next door to the Ocean there are risks involved.

  9. John dolan says:

    Craig Coffee will fix it. He will also create jobs while he’s doing it. Coffee will make Flager great again.

  10. Sherry says:

    Please. . . I would just LOVE to hear anyone say that they would prefer NOT to live near our gorgeous and wonderful oceans, lakes and rivers. For those who so easily “blame the victims” of all natural disasters. . . are you personally doing anything to heal the environment and positively affect climate change? Will you personally make a pledge to never come to any beaches or coastal areas or to drive on A1A? Even visitors add to the erosion of our coastline.

    Why is it that often those who look the other way and even support those industries that create the green house gasses that are putting the global environment in crisis . . . they are frequently the same people who point the finger at their neighbors and say “they” shouldn’t live where they do.

    The 30 years of fear and hate being spewed over cable tabloid programs is rearing it’s ugly head and taking away the “Southern Hospitality” and genuine compassion the South WAS so famous for . . . so very sad and pathetic. Especially when we should be working together as a community to do all we can to save our planet for future generations. First by acknowledging that climate change IS happening NOW and that WE are contributing to it’s acceleration. Here is where the JOBS of the future could be. . . but first, we must open minds, our eyes and our hearts!

  11. Resident says:

    Why is it that the only people that complain are the ones that don’t live here? Houses, like people don’t last forever! I will rebuild every few years if I have to just to stay living in paradise!! Oh, and FYI, A1A is back open, so where is that “surge” ??

  12. DaveT says:

    @resident you are spot on. The complainers are just that poor little complainers that do not live in the area. I guess if a tornado or a fire destroyed their home, they would not complain at all since they are above all others and feel the risk of just living is a given.

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